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Confounding Malthus

Roy Porter, 21 December 1989

Health and the Rise of Civilisation 
by Mark Nathan Cohen.
Yale, 285 pp., £22.50, October 1989, 0 300 04006 7
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Nutrition and Economic Development in the 18th-Century Habsburg Monarchy: An Anthropomorphic History 
by John Komlos.
Princeton, 325 pp., $45, November 1989, 0 691 04257 8
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... demands, each subject to the law of diminishing returns. ‘Progress’ has its costs. Yet, as John Komlos argues in his subtle ‘anthropometric’ account of economic development in the 18th-century Habsburg Empire, the real point about the history of the West over the last couple of centuries is that Malthusian crises have been held at bay, perhaps ...

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